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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Tax Facts’ COVID Weekly by William Byrnes and Robert Bloink (June 22, 2020)

Posted by William Byrnes on June 23, 2020

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Prof. William H. Byrnes
        Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Yes, there are new PPP Rules that allow a lot more flexibility in qualifying for forgiveness. But this week we also have a number of new rules on employee benefits and compensation issues, including a Supreme Court decision on a defined benefits case.

Increased Flexibility for PPP Recipients

PPP loan forgiveness is determined based on how the small business client spent the loan proceeds. Under the PPPFA, at least 60 percent of the loan must be used for payroll costs (this 60 percent threshold was reduced from 75 percent under the CARES Act The PPPFA extended the eight-week period to twenty-four weeks from the date the lender made the first loan payment to the small business owner. Unless Congress acts again, the funds must all be spent by December 31, 2020 in order to be eligible for forgiveness. The amount forgiven can also be reduced if the employer made certain staffing cuts or cut employee compensation levels. The PPPFA gives employers until December 31, 2020 to bring workers back to work/restore wage levels and continue to qualify for loan forgiveness (extended from prior law, which set the deadline at June 30)). Read More

U.S. Supreme Court: DB Participants Lack Standing to Sue Fiduciaries When Payments are Unaffected

The U.S. Supreme Court has now ruled that ERISA-governed defined benefit plan participants lack standing to sue plan fiduciaries in situations where the participants’ own payments were not impacted. In this case, the plaintiffs sued alleging mismanagement of plan funds and self-dealing. However, the plaintiffs’ own fixed pension payments continued to be paid (the plan in this case was overfunded). The Court held that because the plaintiffs would not be impacted financially by the outcome of the case, they lacked standing to sue under Article III of the U.S. constitution. For more information on DB plan funding requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

New Foreign Earned Income Exclusion Rules

The bona fide residence test and physical presence test generally provide specific time requirements that apply to individuals claiming a tax exclusion for foreign-earned income. An otherwise qualified individual may still exclude foreign earned income for the period in which the individual was actually present in the foreign country even if the individual fails to meet the time requirements. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Waives Physical Presence Requirement for Spousal Consent to Participant Benefit Elections

IRC Section 417 generally requires spousal consent to a waiver of a qualified joint and survivor annuity (QJSA), which includes the waiver of a QJSA as part of a participant’s request for a plan distribution or a plan loan (the availability of which were expanded under the CARES Act). The spousal consent must generally be witnessed by a plan representative or a notary public in person (the physical presence requirement). Notice 2020-42 provides relief in permitting remote electronic notarization executed via live auto-video technology that satisfies any state-level requirements that apply to a notary public. For more information on spousal consent requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More


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